Why Is My Hair Curly Underneath But Straight On Top?

Why Is My Hair Curly Underneath But Straight On Top?

There is no denying the beauty of curly hair. Each spiral is perfectly unique, twisting and turning however it pleases.

Now there is a growing trend of more and more people ditching their flat irons and choosing to embrace their natural curls instead. 

However, for those that are new to the natural hair game, it can be hard to understand your curl pattern if you normally opt to keep your hair straight.

But it’s not just natural newbies who struggle, like styling, maintaining, and caring for curly hair can often feel like a chore. 

What’s even more challenging is having the perfect image of what your hair should look like in your head, but your actual hair is not following or cooperating with that look at all. 

For instance, your hair may look perfectly curly or wavy, but when you lift your hair you find strands of straight hair.

This leads many to ask the question of whether it’s possible to have both straight and curly hair at the same time. 

In short, the answer is that it is possible (and often common) for people to have both curly and straight strands of hair at the same time, however, it’s not a look that most people tend to go for. 

In this guide, we’ve pulled together the reasons as to why this happens and what you can do to solve it, as well as some of our best tips for looking after curly hair. 

Why Is My Hair Both Curly And Straight At The Same Time? 

A lot of expert hair stylists believe that it’s perfectly natural to have both straight and curly strands of hair.

Many of those who have perfectly curly hair will style their hair to help them achieve beautiful, frizz-free ringlets. 

If you weren’t already aware, there are four different hair types, which are further subdivided into three categories (a, b, and c).

This ranges from 1a (dead straight) to 4c (tight, coiled curls). The four categories are straight, wavy, curly, and kinky. 

The further down the categories you are, the curlier your hair is. However, category four is usually reserved for afro hair, as each strand is tightly coiled and has no visible kink pattern.

Why Is My Hair Curly Underneath But Straight On Top

Related: How To Diffuse Curly Hair

With that being said, afro hair is considered difficult to classify as it varies amongst individuals. 

As it can be hard to fit your hair into one singular subcategory, or even category in general, it is possible that your hair type can be two categories at once.

For instance, if there is a mixture of wide waves and loose but defined curl patterns, your hair may be both 2c and 3a. 

It’s also possible for you to have both curly and straight strands of hair at the same time. Some reasons as to why this may occur include:


Just like the majority of our physical features, our DNA can play a role in what our hair pattern is and what it looks like. 

Curly hair is known as a recessive gene, so if one of your parents has curly hair and one has straight hair, there’s a greater chance of you having straight hair.

However, you can also have curly hair which may not be the same curl type as your parent, so you may have looser curls. 


Your current health can also have an impact on your hair pattern. For example, a side effect of thyroid disease is thinning hair. This disruption to your hormones means that your hair is unable to hold a curl. 

Frizz From Surfaces Or Materials

When hair comes into contact with different materials such as pillows, hats, and hoods, your top layers of hair tend to lose their curl as they have been rubbing against a material. 

Hair Growth 

As your hair grows it becomes heavier and heavier. So, when the top layers of your hair begin to grow, they are weighed down and can make your hair appear straighter. 

Sun Damage

Prolonged exposure to the sun may flatten the top layer of your hair and weaken the curls, which makes your hair appear flatter and straighter. 

Exposure To Elements

The top layer of your hair is more exposed than the underlayer. Just like sun exposure can damage the top layer of your hair, exposure from wind and cold air can also cause frizz and loosening of your curls. 

Chemical Exposure 

When styling your hair it’s common for the top layer to get more exposure to hair chemicals than the underlayer.

We typically apply more product to the top layers of our hair, as this is the part of the hair that is constantly exposed. This can result in different curl patterns. 

This is especially true if you have your hair bleached. If you get highlights they tend to be applied to the top layer of your hair, and the bleach can cause damage which the underlayers are protected from. 

If you are struggling with your hair having different textures and curl patterns, fortunately, there are several ways that you can combat the issue. 

Tips For Combination Hair

Why Is My Hair Curly Underneath But Straight On Top?

Below we have some tips for styling combination hair! These should help you get better control of your hair and also keep it happy. Keep reading to find out more.

Using Curling Or Flat Irons

If you prefer to have curly hair, you can use your curling irons to curl the upper layer of your hair so that it matches the texture and curl pattern of the underlayer.

If you prefer to have straight hair, use your flat iron to straighten the underneath. 

Although this is a quick fix, using too much heat on your hair (especially curly hair) can have a damaging effect, and may even worsen the condition of your hair. 

If you do want to use a curling or flat iron, make sure you use a heat protector and limit the number of times you use heat on your per week. 

Avoid Wearing Your Hair Tied Up 

According to hairstyling experts, wearing your hair in a ponytail should be avoided at all costs.

This is because wearing your hair tied back can put a lot of strain on the front and top strands of your hair, and can cause curls to lose their shape. 

If you want to wear your hair up, we recommend using a silk scrunchie to do so.

Not only is the silk fabric soft, but scrunchies aren’t as tight as hair ties, which means that you can loosely tie your hair back without damaging your curls. 

Use A Silk Pillowcase

Speaking of silk, it’s the perfect material for curly hair. Unlike regular cotton pillowcases, silk pillowcases can stop your hair from becoming frizzy as there’s less friction. 

What can also help is plopping your hair when sleeping, this will stop your curls from becoming flat as you sleep. 

Don’t Use Towels To Dry Your Hair 

Using cotton towels to dry your hair can cause frizz and even breakage, which can be especially challenging for those with curly hair types. 

Once out of the shower don’t reach for your regular towel! Instead use a microfiber towel, as these are a lot softer and don’t cause as much frizz or damage.

Even just wrapping your hair in a t-shirt would be a better alternative.

Use The Right Hair Products 

One of the most common hair mistakes is that people don’t use the right hair products for their hair type. 

Avoid products that contain sulfate and silicone, as silicone can weigh hair down.

When this happens it can cause curls to “straighten” out, which is why your hair can be both curly and straight at the same time. 

However, if you do like to use silicone-based products, make sure you use ones that are water-soluble silicones.

These won’t cause as much build-up, but it’s generally better to steer clear of these products. 

Sulfate can also have a drying effect on your hair. If your hair dries out too quickly, curly strands of hair can become straight. 

Use Styling Products 

Using gels or mouses can help keep your curls in place for a little bit longer, and can help protect the top layer of your hair. 

As the root of our hair supports the weight of all of our hair, giving your roots a boost with a root lifter will add more volume to your hair. It also helps to create more distinct curls. 

Curl activators can also be used to help define your curls, and give you more voluminous hair. 

Styling creams can also be used effectively to help style your hair when it’s wet. Use a brush, such as a Denman brush, to shape and define your curls.

Then, either let your hair dry naturally or use a diffuser to help speed up the drying process and create volume. 

When diffusing, make sure you use the cold setting, as using heat can cause damage, breakage, and frizz. 

Deep Condition Frequently 

Curly hair requires a lot of moisture to keep it healthy and looking good. When it dries out it can look very dry and brittle, and can often affect the curl pattern of your hair.

To help keep your hair moisturized, make sure you use a deep conditioner. 

Deep conditioners can be left in your hair for as little as half an hour or as long as all through the night.

They work by penetrating deep into your hair follicles to help moisturize the hair. When you’re ready, you simply have to wash the deep conditioner out. 

It’s best to deep condition at least once a week if you can. However, as it can be a time-consuming process, every other week will still do the job. 

Cut Your Hair 

As hair becomes longer, it gets heavier and weighs down your hair. This can make the top layer of your hair look straighter than it does at the root.

By cutting your hair, you are removing the weight, which allows your curls to bounce back to their natural curl pattern once more. 

It’s also important to cut your hair to help promote new and healthy growth. 

How To Treat Combination Hair 

Just like we can experience different skin types (such as both dry and oily), we can also experience different hair types. So, with combination hair, there are both dry and oily parts of our hair. 

Those who notice that their hair is both curly and straight tend to find that their roots are oily, and their ends are quite dry and brittle.

We imagine that this isn’t the look you’re going for, so luckily we have some tips to help treat your hair: 

Gently Cleanse Your Hair

When applying shampoo or conditioner to your hair, make sure you are using a generous amount (remember curly hair loves moisture).

Also take care to massage your scalp as this can help get rid of any product build-up, and can help promote new growth. 

Use Products For Both Dry And Oily Hair

This tip is quite self-explanatory. Use products made for oily hair on your roots and products made for dry hair on the ends of your hair. Just remember to avoid silicone or sulfate-based products. 

Double Up On Hair Product Use

Never underestimate the wonders that two rounds of shampoo can do. Shampoo cleanses your hair and can help get rid of any product build-up that is weighing your hair down.

In addition, shine serum is great for using at the ends of your hair to help improve texture. 

Avoid Using Heat

Heat can cause so much damage to our hair, and most of us are unaware of how much damage it causes. Extensive heat use can also dry out our hair, which can cause curls to lose their shape and look frizzy.

It’s always best to let your air dry naturally, however, if you do need to blow dry, make sure you’re using the cool setting. 

Brush Your Hair Only When It’s Wet

If you have curly hair it’s advisable that you only brush it when it’s wet. This is because brushing it when it’s dry will destroy the curl pattern and leave your hair frizzy and unmanageable.

When curls become frizzy they tend to look straighter than they are. If you need to brush your hair in any way when it’s dry, use a wide-toothed comb instead. 

Final Thoughts 

If you have both curly and straight hair, don’t worry, it’s a pretty common occurrence and can be the result of several different factors.

What’s important is that there are several different ways that you can solve this issue, and most of them don’t require expensive salon trips. 

Some tips which are as simple as only brushing your hair when it’s wet or switching your towel to a t-shirt are very minor changes that can make a world of difference to your hair and how it looks. 

However, not everything works for everyone. Just like us, our hair is unique, so what works for one person may not necessarily work for you.

With that being said, the advice provided in this guide is quite broad, so a handful of these tips and changes to your hair routine should provide results. 

Once you’ve gotten started it’s easy to create a curly hair routine that works perfectly for you!